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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 17:05 GMT
Romanies gather for 'Queen'
Pall bearers and family at Mrs Evans' funeral

Hundreds of Roma gypsies have gathered in Blaenau Ffestiniog to pay their last respects to a popular matriarch affectionately known as the "Queen of Blaenau."

More than 200 mourners attended the funeral of Dorothy Anne Evans, who died at the weekend aged 93, at the Ffestiniog Memorial Hospital after a heart attack.

The mother-of-nine has left an army of 177 descendants including 38 grandchildren, 113 great-grandchildren and 17 great great-grandchildren.

Mrs Evans became known as the "Queen of Blaenau" after an usual brush with real royalty which made national headlines in the 1970s.

The incident is remembered by one of her four sons and five daughters, Caroline Jones.

"Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were visiting to open a local dam with two motorbikes travelling at the front, two cars in the middle and two motorbikes at the back," she said.

She got more applause than the Queen.
Caroline Jones

"The police thought that was the end of the cavalcade and called through my mother who was travelling with my nephews in a scrap lorry.

"But there were more cars to come with VIPs so by the time they realised what happened, my mother was in the middle of the royal procession travelling in a lorry with four tonnes of scrap in the back.

"A big crowd had gathered and the people there were in stitches.

"It was in the Daily Mirror on 29 June, 1977 with the headline - "What an escort for the Queen - Steptoe joins the parade."

"She got more applause than the Queen and for months afterwards people used to tease her about it."

Mrs Evans was known as Dorothy Parkes, and brought up in Bala and Corwen, before marrying George Evans from Pembrokeshire in 1931.

The couple were both Romanies who spoke the Romany language.

Mrs Jones said: "My father met my mother by the bridge in Corwen.

"She was delivering milk with a pony and cart and he was collecting scrap. It was love at first sight."

The couple bought two houses in Blaenau Ffestiniog and knocked them into one as the family grew. Mrs Jones said she had an idyllic childhood with her parents: "It was the best life going to different places, different towns.

"We would go picking hops in Worcester in September and Tunbridge Wells at the end of October and then go home to the rags and the scrap."

Mrs Evans' funeral took place at St David's Church in Blaenau Ffestiniog on Thursday with family and friends from across Britain present.

Around 100 hundred mourners filled the church while another braved the bitterly cold spring day to listen to the service on loud speakers outside.

Among mourners were family friends Pearl Roberts and Sylvia Ann Jones from Tanygrisiau, near Blaenau Ffestiniog.

"She was like real royalty, a real lady who everyone liked" said Ms Roberts.

All Mrs Evans' belongings, including jewellery, will be burned according to Romany tradition at a private family ceremony next week.

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